It has been a tragic last few days in Japan with the recent earthquake, tsunami and now radioactive leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the northeast of the country. As fear of nuclear contamination and radiation sickness increases, countries such as France and the United Kingdom are recommending that their citizens leave Tokyo as soon as possible for their own safety. Consequently, this article presents the following information to help understand the nature of the crisis and how it may affect those in the affected areas.
Despite reducing pressure levels through the release of steam from inside the sealed units housing the radioactive core which contains high levels of radioactive Iodine and Caesium, the recent fires may have released low level nuclear material via smoke, steam and dust. However, most people, sometimes in developed countries, tend to be exposed to tiny amounts of radiation every year. For example, a simple chest x-ray gives a dose of 0.1 millisieverts (mSv), while a typical background radiation dose for a UK resident is reported to be in the region of 2-3 mSv per year. Although readings outside the reactors peaked at 400mSv recently, it did not exceed 11.9 mSv per hour, a few hundred yards away.
Risks And Effects Of Radiation Exposure
Above 100 mSv per year, radiation exposure could lead to the risks of DNA damage or worst case scenario and more seriously, cancer later in life. At 1,000 mSv, the chances of getting cancer increases by 5%, 2,000 mSv may cause potentially deadly radiation sickness while doses over 10,000 mSv are said to be deadly. In summary, low levels of radiation increase the risk of cancers, moderate levels can lead to radiation sickness and high doses can cause organ failure and death.
Treatment of Radiation Exposure
At the moment, risks of further contamination can be reduced by staying indoors, removing clothes and washing the skin and hair – for those in the affected areas. In addition, stable iodine tablets can stop the thyroid gland taking up radioactive material although self-medication is strongly discouraged.
Are people right to be worried about the ensuing nuclear crisis in Japan?
March 18, 2011 at 1:25 am
Obviously with what is taking place in Japan, Disaster could be right around the corner. I live in California and we have active fault lines, we have nuclear reactors!
Radiation sickness is the last thing you want. I read that if you start vomiting within one hour of exposure, you are guaranteed to die. Not that we’d have to worry about radiation levels like that but…..
….makes you wonder how ready we are for a nuclear disaster. The fact that people here in the US are having a hard time getting their hands on iodide just as a precaution makes me wonder, “what if this was an emergency..?” Good enough question, right? I just hope the whole Japan thing resolves with the least amount of Casualties!
March 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm
Hope so too.
March 18, 2011 at 10:43 am
Radiation exposure is a serious thing and Japan government and the world should stand up to help the people in the affected area with all the possible medical and information to help them out any side effect of radiation exposure.
March 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm
Here in Los Angeles, they’re constantly talking about the “huge” radiation cloud that is supposed to come over the weekend. As it’s scary to see it all at once, it’s even worse that we’re almost oblivious to the exposure we experience on an annual basis.
In Japan, there is obvious reason to worry, as they’re exposed to more levels of it and there is nothing they can currently do about it. Think about the last time there was a nuclear explosion and how many lives were lost.
What it really makes you wonder about is the necessity for having nuclear plants in the first place, and why in such mass quantities.
March 19, 2011 at 6:24 am
A lady at work today was saying that they are finding the radiation on the California coast now.
March 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Yeah they are saying that small levels of radioactive particles are beginning to come ashore. Scary! They say it’s nothing to worry about, but then I do my homework and find out it may be something to worry about after all! Read up on THE PETKAU EFFECT. If you live in the path of the fallout as I do, you’ll shudder when you read what the Petkau effect is.
July 4, 2013 at 7:56 am
very nice post……….